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 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 4:08 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

On the 'other side' of the board I started a discussion on "Doctor Zhivago" and people commented that the film did not do justice to the book (heavily paraphrasing here).

It got me thinking about the difficulties of adapting an important literary work to film. What have been the most successful? Is it possible to be 'faithful' to another text and, if so, how?

The best adaptation ever, IMO, is "To Kill a Mockingbird". It captured the childrens' innocence and the narrative voice very well. Also, the music didn't intrude into the world of the film.

Over to you....

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 4:17 AM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

On the 'other side' of the board I started a discussion on "Doctor Zhivago" and people commented that the film did not do justice to the book (heavily paraphrasing here).

It got me thinking about the difficulties of adapting an important literary work to film. What have been the most successful? Is it possible to be 'faithful' to another text and, if so, how?

The best adaptation ever, IMO, is "To Kill a Mockingbird". It captured the childrens' innocence and the narrative voice very well. Also, the music didn't intrude into the world of the film.

Over to you....


I agree with you about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD; it is superb.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 4:24 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

A Clockwork Orange.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:32 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

A Clockwork Orange.

The problem with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is that it cuts out the last chapter of the book. I can understand why this was done, but I believe it bothered Anthony Burgess a lot, and I can understand that too. I wonder if Kubrick thought he should have included the last chapter after he withdrew the film from circulation?

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:33 AM   
 By:   moviejoemovies   (Member)

My first thought is "Rosemary's Baby". Granted it's a fairly short novel so there was no need to cut or trim scenes from the book. One of my unforgettable early memories was reading this book in Vietnam in one sitting (or one laying as I was in my cot and was supposed to be going to sleep). I ended up reading all through the night and into the morning. I was quite exhilirated by morning and spent that whole day in a fog, not having slept at all. I couldn't wait to see the movie. Unfortunately it was mid 1968 and I wasn't going home till the end of the year when the movie would be gone from theatres. Somehow I caught it somewhere during that 30 day leave after Nam and was not disappointed.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:33 AM   
 By:   moviejoemovies   (Member)

Sorry, double post.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:33 AM   
 By:   moviejoemovies   (Member)

Sorry, triple post. Why is the website freezing when I try to post the message?

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:45 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

My first thought is "Rosemary's Baby".

Agreed. I didn't read the book until the mid 1990s, and my first thought after I was a third into it was, "This is just like the movie. I might as well be reading the shooting script."

Here's a recent article on this subject. I like this one because my two favorite novels are included, though they are in strange company.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2013/nov/15/top-10-movie-adaptations

And here's an even longer list:

http://www.totalfilm.com/features/50-best-book-to-movie-adaptations

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:49 AM   
 By:   RoryR   (Member)

Sorry, triple post. Why is the website freezing when I try to post the message?

Hit "Post Message" and then just wait, or go to another page, it's sent. I don't know why it's slow, it just is.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 6:54 AM   
 By:   KevinSmith   (Member)

Driving Miss Daisy.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 7:20 AM   
 By:   Michael Scorefan   (Member)

Lord of the Rings for me. Although I wasn't happy with all of the changes, I think Jackson got far, far more things right than he did wrong, whether it be casting, music, imagery, etc. Especially impressive considering many considered the series unfilmable. Of the three, Fellowship of the Ring is my favorite, but I eagerly anticipated each new release, and after seeing the film, made plans to see it again.

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 7:22 AM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Quite subjective, as with all these things. However, I think it comes down to your definition of "best". For me, a great adaptation isn't how closely they stuck to the book or play, but how well they took that source material and translated it to the medium of film. How cinematic is the material? Often, alterations must be made for the medium, to provide a good film based on a book or play. Of course, if they completely alter the book's tone or basic story, then that's just as bad as taking a book or play and making a non-cinematic film.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 10:40 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I don't know about "best" but, rather, favorites.

My favorites tend to be those adaptations that, even if they don't always stay absolutely enslaved to the written word, still retain its spirit and intent. And, more often than not, they are older classics.

Some examples of mine:
1951 The Browning Version
1950 Cyrano de Bergerac
1946 Great Expectations
1940 The Grapes Of Wrath
1941 How Green Was My Valley
1939 Wuthering Heights

... A very predictable list, actually, but you get the idea.

(I seem to be drawn to those characters that display sacrifice and nobility. Redemption is a big theme with me too. Character strengthened through hardships endured and whatnot.)

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 11:57 AM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

These are just some favorites – the first that came to mind:

Films of Plays:
The Ruling Class
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Long Day’s Journey into Night
Gaslight (both versions)
Oliver
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Blithe Spirit
The Importance of Being Earnest

Films of Novels:
The Big Sleep
The Maltese Falcon
Women in Love
The Haunting
Rebecca
Tom Jones
The Leopard
Gone With the Wind
Careful He Might Hear You

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 12:28 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

First, yes, Horton Foote's screenplay as well as everything else, including Elmer Bernstein's magical music, makes the filmed version of Harper Lee's wonderful "To Kill A Mockingbird" almost perfect.

Bryan Forbes' filmed version of James Clavell's "King Rat" is terrific, as is John Barry's great score.

I remain partial to The American Film Theatre's version of Harold Pinter's great "The Homecoming," which I discussed elsewhere at great length.

And I think Alan Parker did a great job with the Lloyd Webber/Rice "Evita."

But I hope NO ONE cites Mike Nichol's filmed version of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virgihia Woolf," which I find barely watchable. But I had seen it on stage with 2 fine casts in the 1960s as well as owning the complete play on LP with the great Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill, who made Liz and Dick look like a joke casting!

 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 12:32 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Re: Sorry, triple post. Why is the website freezing when I try to post the message?

Hit "Post Message" and then just wait, or go to another page, it's sent. I don't know why it's slow, it just is.


Right, Rory. Despite the delays (which can be maddening) it's better to wait (but try to save it if it's long just in case it doesn't hit). But some members seem to be so befuddled that they re-post and re-post AGAIN, unaware the original posting went through (most of the time they do).

Look at OnyaBirri below. Talk about befuddlement!

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 12:42 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

It's been awhile since I've read it/seen it back-to-back, but I remember The Andromeda Strain being a pretty faithful adaptation of the book, even with the couple of changes they made (such as turning one male character into a female).

Hellraiser is also nearly identical to The Hellbound Heart, but that's probably easy to do when you're adapting a novella instead of an epic novel.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 12:46 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Thanks for the contributions, everybody. Some interesting adaptations here and "The Guardian" article was very good.

I wanted to try and flesh out some fundamental ideas about adaptation:

1. Is a film 'faithful' to a book or a play, and if so HOW?
2. Is it necessary to BE 'faithful' when one text becomes another one?
3. Can a new text, especially one which uses music so significantly, actually be a true adaptation?

I think of "Gone With The Wind", but have never read Mitchell's original. It would be impossible to render all the plot machinations and characters in a massive tome into a single, 3 hour plus film. Creative decisions have to be made about what exactly the film is going to be. For me, "GWTW" is a grand, mass entertainment which 'celebrated' the power of Selznick and MGM and his stars just as much as represented a particular time in American history. Consider the opening - the bells on the word "The Selznick Studios" and then the sweeping introduction: this signalled the cache and prestige of the production and, for me, it drew attention to itself. The publicity 'machine' behind the film also supported that view. What then of Mitchell's original? Cukor was sacked because he was thought to have skewed the picture towards Scarlett and away from Rhett? The very fact of a Director of a film 'skewing' a narrative suggests something far less than a 'faithful' adaptation. And I didn't think the film brought out the vile narcissism of Scarlett, so in that sense "GWTW" was every bit a grand romance as anything else!! Was that what Mitchell intended?

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 8:37 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)


The problem with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is that it cuts out the last chapter of the book.


I believe that most of the US printings of the book omitted the final chapter also.

 
 
 Posted:   Nov 25, 2013 - 8:38 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)


The problem with A CLOCKWORK ORANGE is that it cuts out the last chapter of the book.


I believe that most of the US printings of the book omitted the final chapter also.

 
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